Q: I was in church last Sunday, and a woman in the row ahead of me began breastfeeding halfway through the service. I’m a big proponent of women breastfeeding their babies, but it was very distracting during a time that I wanted to focus on the sermon. What is proper church etiquette regarding distracting behavior during worship?
A: Ick. I know that many think a woman providing nourishment to her baby is a beautiful and natural thing, but putting on a show in the house of the Lord is unacceptable in my book. In fact, I can’t think of a place in public where I would want to ever see that. So for those women out there who bare all at the mall food court or in line at the supermarket, consider waiting until you can be a little more discreet.
I have several pet peeves when it comes to etiquette when people come together such as church services, trips to the movies or any live performance. Audiences should have to sign a waiver before entering so as not to ruin the experience for others, and rules should be posted for all to see.
Cell phones. Do not text, play Angry Birds or take a phone call if it interferes with anyone else’s experience. Also check to make sure your phone is on silent so that I am not subjected to whatever lame Country song you have downloaded for your ringtone.
Eating. Don’t break out a tuna fish sandwich during the opening prayer. I am quite sure you can wait an hour to stuff your face. It’s called eating breakfast beforehand. I once sat down at the beautiful Broadway Theater in NYC for a performance of Les Misérables, and some people, who came in late and sat in front of me, proceeded to rummage around for two large McDonald’s bags they had snuck in and ate Big Macs and fries during the performance. True story.
Understandably, parents often bring snacks (Cheerios or crackers) along for small children during church. And to me this is fine; but when you leave, the floor and pews shouldn’t need a power wash.
Disruptive children. I love my child. I even love some other people’s children. But I can’t stand it when parents don’t get up and leave the room when their child is pitching a fit. If your child is not ready for the experience without ruining it for others, get a sitter. Also…changing diapers anywhere but the bathroom is a no-no.
Hogging space. God did not give you ownership of the pew. If people approach and room is limited, scoot down! Don’t be a pew blocker. Move toward the middle of the pew, leaving the aisle seats for those who come in later. If you think you just can’t handle the middle of the pew, take the outside aisle spot and graciously allow those coming after you to go past (stand up so they can get by).
I suggest that next Sunday you sit next to this woman. As the sermon begins, you could clip your fingernails while talking to your friend on your cell phone and offer her half of your tuna fish sandwich.